ST. PAUL, MINN. — At the recent Board of Directors meeting in Colorado Springs (USHGA’s home), our capable Executive Director Phil Bachman presented a typically thorough report. In his presentation, Phil referenced several recent statistics which might interest you. • Membership sits at a bit over 9,500 members of which 71% are HG pilots and 35% are PG. The numbers don’t add to 100 as they include Dual memberships. We’re almost exactly a two-thirds, one-third split these days. • Nearly 20% of all members are new, a figure that surprises many old timers. In fact, though, we lose about 20% every year as well, so we’re staying about even. If we could trim some of those losses and keep adding a few extra new members, we could grow at a comfortable pace. Attrition comes from HG; growth in PG makes up for the difference numerically. • Thirty percent of HG ratings are Is and IIs, a healthy total of learning pilots, I feel. Among PG pilots, the majority consider themselves as advancing novices, an honest-sounding response that makes sense with the newness of PG compared to HG. • In newer, "nearly done" survey results on the magazine-combining issue, close to two thirds reported a high level of satisfaction with the test issue and 68% said to go ahead and combine while 32% said keep them separate. All this is from 1,236 responses, a significant eighth of the total membership. • We’re having a bummer year with fatalities up sharply, to thirteen for the year. A report will be available elsewhere, but in the meantime, help yourself and your buddy to fly safely please! • Thanks to Phil and his capable staff for this and MUCH more info. Armed with knowledge your directors can make better decisions. BTW, USHGA has several new staffers. Longtimer Jeff Elgart’s wife Elaine joined him as did Natalie Hinsley, Joanne Peterson, and John Halloran. The total is one less than years ago, but USHGA is running well enough today that Bachman believes he can manage the operation with this present group. Keep up the good work, all! ••• American rep’ for La Mouette gliders and Cosmos trikes, Don Reinhard, is making a move to create more presence for the French giants in the USA. After years of uneven representation, it will be interesting to see the effects of Don’s effort. He’s rather new to HG but has been dealing successfully in powered and unpowered paragliding equipment. To shore up his hang gliding operation, he’s hired Mark "Gibbo" Gibson and Mike Barber. Both are known figures in competition and cross country flying, in fact, they recently started the World Team Academy to pass along their experience at such advanced flying (more on this in a future edition of "PL"). • Reinhard is showing himself to be a quick study of what works in HG marketing as he scores a couple leading pilots to help him represent this side of his growing enterprise. Gibbo and Barber will be representing La Mouette hang gliding equipment, but also the lightweight trike, the Samba. As an owner of one of these neat contraptions myself, I’m pleased to know expert help is available. To remind you, the Samba is similar to the Freedom Machine — and others just entering the market from Polaris and Northwing. All are different from most powered trike ultralights. I prefer to call my Samba a "hang glider ultralight," but my entire reason to own this rig is to go hang glider soaring, that is, engine off. I merely accept carrying my "ride to launch" with me and don’t mind the seated flying position with wheels to ease the landing under a La Mouette Topless hang glider. Gibbo sees increasing demand for these machines, too, calling them "an airpark in your backyard." • Beyond the powered hang gliders, Gibbo and Barber will also promote powered Sky Bikes for paragliding enthusiasts who also want their engine along with them in flight. ••• While we’re discussing power — Yipes! …in our HG mag!?! — Gerry Charlebois reports selling "lots of Mosquitos," thanks to several articles the well-known photographer has published. "Charlie-Boy" says he has over 100 hours on his. Gerry’s involved with powered ultralight trikes as well. He runs a very active business in Hawaii giving tourist lessons on Australian AirBorne trikes. It has gotten busy enough that he’s enlisted John "Ole" Olson and is looking at some other candidates to help out. Now, you may sneer and say, "Well, big deal. He’s giving ultralight rides." Wrong! First of all they aren’t "rides." They’re legitimate lessons by people with the right approvals. And perhaps more importantly to USHGA members, he and Olson (and the others to come) are pushing hang gliding. It just so happens that they’re doing so with powered trike ultralights. Some purists will still refuse to accept this as a way to get more people in hang gliding, but Gerry and crew try to direct their satisfied students to HG schools once they leave Hawaii. For more info from Gerry’s Birds of Paradise enterprise, call 808-822-5309. ••• Charlebois and Mosquitos, Reinhard and SkyBikes, Gibbo and Sambas, Taber and Freedom Machines… What’s happening? These aren’t hardly isolated trends anymore plus more machines are coming to fill this emerging niche. • Interestingly, outgoing USHGA prez GW Meadows introduced this topic at the board of directors meeting. He (and numerous others) think USHGA should embrace powered aircraft IF they are genuinely intended for soaring flight. Of course, it is only at the discussion stages now, and some USHGA directors vigorously oppose adding any powered craft to our member ranks. We’ll see how it plays out politically, but the market has already decided these superlight ultralights are appropriate for hang gliders and paragliders. ••• One of the most interesting things I heard from Gibbo (while talking about his new role with La Mouette) was this: "Gerard [Thevenot, director of La Mouette], and Don [Reinhard, the U.S. distributor for La Mouette and Cosmos] are in the process of finding and buying a flight park in Florida where we can showcase our product line and give year ’round instruction of the trikes and sky-bikes." Gee! I wonder if Wallaby founder Malcolm Jones ever envisioned so many followers to his towpark concept. After Wallaby kicked into gear, along came Quest and Graybird, two other towparks in central Florida. Now perhaps La Mouette/Reinhard, and I’m also aware John Harris of Kitty Hawk Kites is looking around central Florida. What a hot bed of soaring potential for a state that’s flat as a board. ••• Hey! Outta room with news to spare. So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Vmail and fax to 651-450-0930 or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine